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Friday, August 29, 2003

Westports Rolnick Observatory Still Busy With Mars Viewers

Westports Rolnick Observatory Still Busy With Mars Viewers
WestportҒs Rolnick Observatory hosted dozens of people Thursday night and early today hoping to catch a glimpse of Mars.

Although the Westport Astronomical Society announced special viewing hours were 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., the observatory stayed open past midnight as visitors arrived in a steady stream at its location on Bayberry Lane behind the Westport Weston Health District office.

While many people lined up to use the observatory telescope, others took advantage of the willingness of several amateur astronomers who set up their own telescopes on the lawn nearby to share their views and knowledge with visitors.

One man said his telescope was slightly more powerful than the Rolnick scope. Another said his scope had been only recently liberated from an old barn where a father had stored it for more than 40 years after his teenage son had lost interest in astronomy.

Mars appeared as a bright whitish ball through the scopes, its polar ice cap clearly visible.

Visitors moved from scope to scope peering through the viewfinders. The scene was dark except for the natural light from the clear sky and a few dim red flashlights illuminating “donation” signs on scattered tables.

On Wednesday, Mars reached its closest point to earth in 60,000 years. But astronomers at the Westport facility said with good weather, there should be continued good viewing for several days.

Of course, none of the views matched that of the Hubble telescope.

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Posted 08/29/03 at 03:33 AM  Permalink



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